An Open Letter to the American Fork City Council in Response to Snowbird CEO, Bob Bonar’s Claims

The quote from Bob Bonar, CEO of Snowbird Ski Resort, in Friday Sept. 16, 2011 Provo’s Daily Herald (click here for story) stating Save Our Canyons has “not bought into the multi-use concept” is grossly inaccurate and shows the shortsightedness of the resort as they continually fail to see their impacts on other users and the local recreation economy.

As a college student, I worked at Snowbird Resort for a few seasons valet parking cars for mostly out of state patrons at the Snowbird Center. I loved to ski and talk with the many guest who came to the resort, it was a pretty good gig. However, as I grew, so too did my sense for adventure. Riding on chair lifts one starts to drool at the terrain just outside of the ski area boundary. A few short years later, I was given a pair of snowshoes as a Christmas gift, and White Pine Canyon became my go-to destination. Hiking up in my boots with the snowshoes precariously attached and a board on my back, I learned (and still am learning today) the art of powder skiing in an uncontrolled environment. A few years later, I traded the clunky snowshoes for a circular saw, a Voile Split kit, and a pair of climbing skins which allowed me the freedom to easily get further and further in to the now crowded Wasatch Backcountry. Still, I remained a patron of Snowbird as one can never stop honing their skills in a controlled environment.

I am grateful to Snowbird, every time I descend into one of the powder-lined canyons of the Wasatch, they are partially responsible for the love affair that has formed between me and the Wasatch. Of course, the other seasons of the year provide one with endless opportunities to hike, backpack, climb, bike, fish, photography, view wildflowers and wildlife and many other activities at resorts. These are the things we would like to keep, to enjoy, and to share with our friends and family members. Save Our Canyons does not take issue with recreation at the resorts, we take issue when the resorts develop, alter the landscape and our alpine vistas and take away from others the many uses and experiences that millions of visitors each year seek out.

In numerous conversations between us and Bob Bonar he has stated he intends to have resort skiers flood into White Pine Canyon, via his new tram to the American Fork Twin Peaks. White Pine Canyon is the sole public access point for backcountry recreation in Little Cottonwood Canyon during the winter months. Part of alpinism is looking out for other users around you. Snowbird’s expansion to the American Fork Twin Peaks is a blatant disregard for other uses in the area and is a slap in the face to the alpinistic ethic. For them, it is another peak conquered, altered, a few more lift tickets and condos sold. To us, it is the permanent loss of an icon, a destination, and a tradition going back long before Snowbird ever erected its first lifts or building. We wholeheartedly embrace multiple recreational uses of the Wasatch. If history has shown us anything with ski area expansion it is, first come the lifts, followed by the buildings. It is Snowbird’s self-centered definition of multi-use, which is inclusive of condos, restaurants, roads, parking lots, rollercoasters suited for an amusement park, and the never ending creep of resort expansion that comes at a loss to the many other users that we are struggling to buy into.


Carl Fisher
Executive Director
Save Our Canyons

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s